When it comes to the modern wristwatch, few have had as much impact as Cartier’s stylistics. The earliest and well-known example of a #watchonmywrist would have to belong to the rakish Alberto Santos-Dumont, the dashing Brazilian aviation pioneer whose hot-air balloons and airships regularly invaded the skies of Paris. As tales go, Santos-Dumont would drop his cruisers in the middle of a Parisian square, stop for lunch or a coffee, and hop on again to his next destination. In all honesty, in our era of Insta- and TikTok-worthy social media, he would have been perfectly suited to our time.
Santos-Dumont’s style was refined, and so when he asked Cartier to develop a solution for him to be able to tell the time during flight, Cartier created a watch that not only delivered on function but was also spiffy, to match his sharp dressing. The watch, now named the Santos-Dumont, has retained across the years all of its classy attributes. It’s broadened into a complete line that ranges from easily appreciated quartz models to skeleton editions featuring some of Cartier’s best work in watchmaking and design.
The classic Santos-Dumonts have till today existed in two sizes, Small (SM) and Large (MM). Both are powered by quartz movements, while an XL size has been around in the form of the Santos-Dumont Skeleton, an all-time favourite for fans of shaped skeleton movement watches. Now, the classic Santos-Dumonts are getting a size upgrade with the Santos-Dumont XL, in three executions and driven by a mechanical movement.
The said movement is the Cartier 430MC, a slim manual winder that’s modified from the Piaget 430P, a well-known and highly reliable performer. The watches are breezy in execution and sub-8mm thick, making them a great daily beater for work or the weekend — it really works with anything you wear, to be honest. At 46.6mm lug to lug, it’s quite well-sized, but the curved lugs wrap them-selves around your wrist snugly, and on the ladies or slim-wristed gents, it’s never looked better.
Dials are silvered and sunray-finished, which really strikes an elegant note against the polished screw-down bezel and brushed case. Three variants exist, a full rose gold, a full steel and one in-between. The latter two are fitted with a blue spinel cabochon on the crown, while the rose gold model bears a sapphire cabochon instead.
Pricing for the steel model is set at CHF 5,600, the two-tone steel-and-gold edition is CHF 7,700 and the full gold model will be at CHF 14,800.
The adoption of a mechanical movement will surely attract a large number of collectors who love Cartier’s case design but have refrained from buying the Santos-Dumont in the past. We’ll be testing these watches out soon; wait for our comparison video.